Monday, September 15, 2008

An E-Mail Exchange With Howie, My (Far) Right-Wing Friend in NY: Is There, or Is There Not, a "Bush Doctrine?"

Howie: Basically, the term "Bush Doctrine" was coined by Charles Krauthammer, and I sent you his article that "suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine."

Me: Howie, you're killing me with this. There are so many more important things I ought to be doing with my time than trying to persuade you that a pit-bull is not a pig and that a horse is not a house and that fantasy is not reality. It is, I believe, a powerful testimony of my unfailing love for you that I go to all this trouble. I only wish you had any respect for me -- and for yourself -- and took the world more seriously.

I did a Lexis-Nexis search (it is a subscription database of, among other things, US and world newspapers, newsmagazines, and radio and television news transcripts which I have access to through Roosevelt's library) of the phrase "Bush Doctrine" for all the time between June 2002 and August 15, 2008. In other words, it does NOT search anything AFTER the Palin interview. I got over 1000 results. Please read them carefully. Here's my disclaimer, though: I'm only copying the essential parts of each story, where the term "Bush Doctrine" is used specifically. And, since this is a subscription service, I can't give you any hyperlinks. I urge you to go to a library and get a copy of each if you want to read the whole article.

Here's the very first one, from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:

  • Kill first, ask questions later

BYLINE: Robert Manne. Robert Manne is associate professor of politics at La Trobe University.
SECTION: NEWS AND FEATURES; Opinion; Pg. 13 LENGTH: 966 words
September 30, 2002
Monday Late Edition

The black holes in Bush's logic might suck us all in.TEN days ago,
George Bush handed to the Congress a document of fundamental importance, outlining a new military doctrine for the United States.

The new doctrine argues that in the 10 years following the Soviet collapse, the US failed to grasp the nature of the threats posed by the post-Cold War world. With the terrible events of September 11, America awoke.

At first, the US characterised the new enemy it faced as "terrorism". Later, it refined the idea of the new enemy to "terrorism with a global range", a euphemism for the
kind of terrorism with the capacity to inflict harm on the civilian populations in America or the West.

Since the shock of September 11, the new enemy has expanded to include what have been called "rogue states". In the
Bush doctrine, a rogue state is a regime which brutalises its own people, seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction and expresses hatred for the US...We arrive here at the heart of the new Bush military doctrine. The US, it is claimed, presently faces the prospect of
attack either from one of the rogue states or from a terrorist group supplied by
them with weapons of mass destruction. Before this kind of threat, Cold War
ideas about deterrence and containment are obsolete. The only rational military strategy is the "pre-emptive strike".

Here's one from the Straits Times (Singapore) from October of 2002 (first two paragraphs):

  • Dubya's dangerous and divisive doctrine

October 16, 2002 Wednesday

THE new American strategic doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, enunciated a year after Sept 11, provokes more discord internationally than it catalyses accord domestically.

Past presidential doctrines helped American leaders mobilise domestic support and organise international coalitions. The Bush Doctrine is the most divisive post-war pronouncement.

From the Washington Post, October 2003 (I'm copying the entire article, as it directly references the Bush Doctrine several times, and even quotes Richard Perle -- one of the neo-cons who created it through his work at PNAC -- directly referring to the Bush Doctrine as preemptive first strike):

  • The 'Bush Doctrine' Experiences Shining Moments

December 21, 2003 Sunday Final Edition

BYLINE: Dana Milbank, Washington Post Staff Writer

SECTION: A Section; A26LENGTH: 1041 words

It has been a week of sweet vindication for those who promulgated what they call the Bush Doctrine.

Beginning with the capture of Saddam Hussein a week ago and ending Friday with an agreement by Libya's Moammar Gaddafi to surrender his unconventional weapons, one after another international problem has eased.

On Tuesday, the leaders of France and Germany set aside their long-standing opposition to the war in Iraq and agreed to forgive an unspecified amount of that country's debt. On Thursday, Iran signed an agreement allowing surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities after European governments applied intense pressure on the U.S. foe. On Friday, Libya agreed to disarm under the watch of international inspectors, just as administration officials were learning that Syria had seized $23.5
million believed to be for al Qaeda.

To foreign policy hard-liners inside and outside the administration, the gestures by Libya, Iran and Syria, and the softening by France and Germany, all have the same cause: a show of American might.

Those who developed the Bush Doctrine -- a policy of taking preemptive, unprovoked action against emerging threats -- predicted that an impressive U.S. victory in Iraq would intimidate allies and foes alike, making them yield to U.S. interests in other areas.

Though that notion floundered with the occupation in Iraq, the capture of Hussein may have served as the decisive blow needed to make others respect U.S. wishes, they say. "It's always been at the heart of the Bush Doctrine that a more robust policy would permit us to elicit greater cooperation from adversaries than we'd had in the past when we acquiesced," said Richard Perle, an influential adviser to the
administration. "With the capture of Saddam, the sense that momentum may be with us is very important."

Perle had provoked much criticism for saying a successful U.S. invasion of Iraq would signal to other foes that "you're next." But he said the actions by Libya and Iran prove that the threat alone was sufficient to produce action. "Gaddafi surely had to take more seriously that we would not allow him to get away with the programs he was embarked," he said.

Perle and the other "neo-conservative" hawks whose views dominate the Bush administration know better than to claim victory. Gaddafi or the Iranians may still cheat despite admitting inspectors. And other potential foes, notably North Korea and China, have shown little susceptibility to the threat implicit in the Bush Doctrine.

Still, Perle allowed, "it's nice to have a good week every once in a while."

Bush's domestic adversaries have had some trouble responding to the administration's diplomatic successes. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a presidential aspirant, portrayed the success with Libya as an exception to the Bush Doctrine. "Ironically, this significant advance represents a complete U-turn in the Bush administration's overall foreign policy," he said in a statement Saturday. "An administration that scorns multilateralism and boasts about a rigid doctrine of military preemption has almost in spite of itself demonstrated the enormous potential for improving our national security through diplomacy."

But Bush's supporters say it is precisely his willingness to go it alone and take preemptive action that has encouraged other countries to seek diplomatic solutions before the United States launches a military attack. The Libya and Iran concessions "show the peripheral benefit of preemption," said Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms control official who now serves on a Pentagon advisory panel. "Most of all it scares the bejesus out of rogue dictators." As for stubborn allies such as Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, "they pay more attention when there's a forceful U.S. policy," Adelman said.

It is unlikely, of course, that France or Germany would acknowledge that they are reacting to U.S. strength. Yet it is noteworthy that they were conciliatory on the issue of Iraqi debt forgiveness after Hussein was captured -- even though they were complaining bitterly just a week before about a Bush plan to exclude them from U.S.-funded Iraq reconstruction projects.

And it is inarguable that Germany and France have taken a more active role in winning Iranian compliance with weapons inspections since the United States invaded Iraq. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain visited Iran in
October, overcoming Iran's longtime resistance to signing a monitoring agreement.
"The Europeans never would have taken these steps [in Iran] without Bush taking the steps he took in Iraq," said Gary Schmitt, who directs the hard-line Project for the New American Century. "The Europeans don't want us to do another Iraq there, so they're rushing in to get a deal. Bush gets an immense amount of credit for laying out what the agenda is and making others step up to the plate."

Bush still has some inconsistencies to work out with his doctrine. Earlier this month, he drew rebukes from conservatives for undermining democratic Taiwan to win favor with totalitarian China. And, as Bush's domestic opponents point out, he has been contradictory in his views of international organizations. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said the administration's support for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Libya and Iran "is difficult to reconcile with the administration's previous ridicule of IAEA inspectors in Iraq."

But such complaints, at least for now, have been overshadowed by the results achieved with Iran and Libya. That was the clear message Bush delivered in his unusual appearance late Friday in the White House briefing room. Mentioning the fate of Hussein, Bush said, "These actions by the United States and our allies have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction."

If Bush was oblique, a senior aide who briefed reporters after the president's statement, was quicker to take credit. "The outcome today is a response [to] the policies that we have pursued," he said. The official said the secret discussions with Libya began in March -- when the invasion of Iraq started. "I can't imagine that Iraq went unnoticed by the Libyan leadership," the aide said.

And -- WOW!!! -- I actually found a reference to the phrase "Bush Doctrine" that links it directly to the White House and the Bush administration, and dates it as far back as October 2001.

  • 'Bush Doctrine' sets up rules of engagement

October 9, 2001, Tuesday, FIRST EDITION

WASHINGTON -- White House officials gave a name Monday to the rules of engagement driving the U.S. war on terrorism -- the "Bush Doctrine." The policy makes any nation or group that tolerates terrorists a potential target.

From the Toronto (Canada) Globe and Mail:

  • Monroe, Truman and Bush?; U.S. leader aims to become only the third; chief to lay a foreign-policy cornerstone

The Globe and Mail (Canada)
October 20, 2001 Saturday


There was the Monroe Doctrine. There was the Truman Doctrine. Now, there is the Bush Doctrine.

In his Sept. 20 speech to Congress, U.S. President George W. Bush declared that all nations must either join the United States in combatting terrorism, or be its enemy. He said the government would act against any individual, organization or state "of global reach" that supports terrorism.

In the weeks since, Mr. Bush has referred to "the doctrine I spelled out to the American people." Vice-President Dick Cheney invoked "the Bush Doctrine" in a rousing call to arms Thursday evening.

Coalition forces are attacking Afghanistan in the air and now on the ground in the name of the Bush Doctrine. A growing chorus of politicians demands that the United States attack Iraq in the name of the Bush Doctrine.

From the Boston Globe and the Australian Financial Review on the global political implications of the Bush Doctrine, from October and December of 2001, respectively:


The Boston Globe
October 24, 2001, Wednesday ,THIRD EDITION
BYLINE: By Scot Lehigh, Globe Staff SECTION: OP-ED; Pg. D7 LENGTH: 699 words

IF YOU WISH to converse with me, Voltaire said, define your terms.

In speaking to the world, President Bush needs to do just that, for his zero-tolerance antiterrorism doctrine is one that both friends and rivals clearly hope to appropriate for their own purposes.

Consider our newfound comrade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Noting that the Kremlin considers the Chechen separatists to be terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden, he has declared that the United States and Russia share a common foe.

Or Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, who called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Israel's Osama bin Laden. Why, with America drawing a line in the sand against terrorism, should Israel be pressured to negotiate with a man who has sponsored and encouraged terrorists, he asked?

A bit less vocal was India, which faces attacks by Islamic militants hoping to pry all of disputed Kashmir away. "If the US can strike Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks ... why can't we take similar action against terrorists harbored by Pakistan?" wondered Farooq Abdullah, Kashmir's chief minister. Orwellian China would just as clearly like the world to view Tibet through the lens of the Bush doctrine, while Malaysia has used it to justify a suppression of peaceful dissent. And that's just for starters.

  • Bush Doctrine suddenly crystallises

The Australian Financial Review
December 10, 2001 Monday
BYLINE: Peter Hartcher SECTION: Pg. 1/11. LENGTH: 99 words

The US President, George W Bush, has won huge support for his stand against terrorism. Bush has established a doctrine that holds all countries that harbourterrorists as being accountable to the US. Bush has declared that for every country that support terrorists there will be a "day of reckoning". Governments around the world have received a warning from what has happened in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan having almost reached a conclusion, the US Government must decide in which country its forces will seek terrorists next. An attack on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq appears imminent.

Howie (and all my other right wing friends out there), I know you. I don't expect any of this to change your (for lack of a better word) "mind." But you are wrong about this, you are being deceived by post-game spin, and nothing you say or do or believe can EVER change history. There is a Bush Doctrine, it was promulgated by the White House, it has been debated and discussed in terms of its implications for foreign policy and for global politics, and neither Sarah Palin nor you seems ever to have heard of it.

The GOP and right-wing spinmeisters might indeed be successful persuading those American people who choose ignorance over information, and who choose to be led around on a leash by the right-wing media that there are "several Bush Doctrines," but history has already recognized one.

And that's really all there is to it. A century from now people will be studying the Bush Doctrine, and what they'll be studying is this dangerous principle of the preemptive first strike.

There's nothing you can do to change that.

No comments: